Unbinding Straitjacket Sexualities

Aaron Kim


As Am 115

Unbinding Straitjacket Sexualities

In chapter 5 of Shimizu’s Straitjacket Sexualities, Shimizu brings forth the historical cinematic figures of two Asian American actors James Shigeta and Jason Scott Lee. James Shigeta’s highlighted works was aimed particularly to be labeled as a heartthrob, while Jason Lee became a sex symbol during the 1990’s. It particularly interested me because growing up in America I did not experience any Asian American male actors to be intertwined through Hollywood as someone with sex appeal or a sexual relationship. Just recently however, the popular show Walking Dead did bring light to Asian American men to be a lover, leader, and also a protagonist. If I look at past films that I saw that incorporated Asian men with a relationship with a woman, I realized this was only evident when the same race (asian with asian) was together. For example: Jackie Chan’s films especially Supercop 2, shows Jackie Chan having a loving relationship with another Asian women and not a white female actress, etc. But if we see let say an African American man in a relationship with an Asian woman, then it is fine. Asian men in the perspective of stereotypes and even Hollywood, are depicted to be only capable of loving Asian females or loving themselves as asexuals as Shimizu depicts in chapter 5. 

In Chapter 5, we learn much about James Shigeta and how he contributed in engaging to define Asian men to be heterosexual, gallant, respectful, charismatic, chivalry and courteous. He also redefined the fact that Asian men cannot be with any other females than their own race: Shigeta became the epitome of interracial marriage and relationship. Shimizu focuses on one particular film from his works: The Crimson Kimono. In this film, the setting takes place in America during the Cold War, where the tension between the U.S. and Japan were strained. In addition to political ties, Shigeta also implements through the plot, the devastating effects of love, being with a white woman. In a way, Shimizu offers the fact that love does not revolve around geopolitical affairs, but rather the indepth characteristic of the individual and one being loved and a lover. This in fact brings to light the redefining momentum of Asian masculinity as not one of just the penis and phallus, but rather through romantic ideals of flirtation, kissing, interracial marriage in pursuit of righteous love, and the mere fact that Asian men can be inclusive with society.

Hopefully within my lifetime there will be a time where Asian peoples in general will have the same face, the same color, the same eye size, and same everything in aspects where society can visualize Asians not as inferior OR superior, but rather just people in general with one love. Whether this can be established through media or popular culture I do not care. As long as the message is sent that Asian people are not ridiculed for being smart, having small phallus, squinty eyes, or any racial generalizations, then everything is good. The popular show Walking Dead is doing good in this aspect where Asian men are portrayed not as weak and feeble, but independent and willing, as well as a character with ethics and morals. One example of this is Glen (Steven Yeun) in the Walking Dead, he is seen as a hunter, lover, independent, and strong individual. Hopefully the upcoming Asian american actor/actresses will stray away from stereotypes and play roles that actually reflect their lives and not one as seen through the perspective of the racist nation.


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